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A Girl in Exile

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  572 ratings  ·  76 reviews
A Girl in Exile, first published in Albanian in 2009, is set among the bureaucratic machinery of Albania's 1945-1991 dictatorship. While waiting to hear whether his newest play will be approved for production, playwright Rudian Stefa is called in for questioning by the Party Committee. A girl - Linda B. - has been found dead, with a signed copy of his latest book in her ...more
192 pages
Published (first published 2009)
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Jeffrey Keeten
”’May I see the book again?’ he asked the investigator.

He opened it with his left hand, because his right hand was shaking. He stared at his own handwriting. The inscription had been written on the first night of his most recent play, in the foyer immediately afterward: For Linda B., a souvenir from the author. June 12th.


Most authors sign a lot of copies of their books over their lifetime. Rudian Stefa is no exception. The Party Committee has called him in to see if he remembers this girl, this
...more
Blerina
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Linda B. is the girl brought up during the communist regime in Albania. She and her whole family are interned into a village, and therefore banned to enter the city of Tirana. After graduating from high school in Tirana, Linda B. must return to the village where her family is and never set foot in the city. For a young girl whose lived and loved in the city and has so many dreams ahead this is simply murder. Kadare is a master at portraying this feeling of isolation and the loss of hope that so ...more
Calzean
May 21, 2019 rated it liked it
A complex but short story which I may have missed many of the nuances. There's debate on restrictions of the Albanian government under a socialist system, the rights of women, reference to the classics and the ongoing nervousness of waiting to be arrested by a paranoid regime.
The main character is a playwright in Albania. He is self possessed, his current girlfriend is 20 years younger and still at school. He is questioned by the unnamed interrogator about his relationship with a Linda K who has
...more
Julia
Apr 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The time the story was placed,was just a little bit depressing,and from time to time,I didn`t have the nerve to keep reading.So many nonsenses,but that still in those days "had" to make sense...But I really loved the ending,its cruelty was adorable,and so kind...(still with the nonsenses...) ...more
Andy Weston
Aug 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read whilst cycling in Albania’s mountains.
Enjoyed it a lot.
Bob Newman
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
sunk in the totalitarian swamp

Rudian Stefa, a playwright, has a girlfriend. He doesn't treat her very well, but still, he dotes on her. Once, before they became lovers, the girl, Migena, asked him to autograph a copy of one of his books. She said it was for a friend. He thinks it's an extremely minor matter, maybe it was just for herself. One day he's called into the Party Committee in Tirana (Albania's capital) to explain why he signed the book and under what circumstances. The "friend" has
...more
Hugh Coverly
Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another astonishing novel by an author of outstanding talent. Where, one might ask, is Kadare's Nobel Prize?

I have sought out and read Kadare ever since he won the inaugural Man Booker International prize in 2005, thereby coming to the attention of readers in North America. At first, it was easy to find titles in major bookstores, but this no longer the case. The more recent works, including this one, have not appeared in Canada; instead, I pick them up while on trips to Europe.

A Girl in Exile:
...more
Alex Sarll
I have a couple of noughties Kadare paperbacks, unread, which both have pointedly austere and literary covers. This one, with its title and falling female silhouette, seems aimed more at the new audience for moderately literary thrillers with unreliable point-of-view characters and names including the word 'Girl'. Who will likely be disappointed as the Orpheus references take hold and everything goes more magic-realist - but I was ensnared, having spent much of the earlier stretch wondering if a ...more
Kriegslok
Dec 22, 2018 rated it liked it
This book could be seen as a sort of ménage à trois tale but with a Kadare trademark twist and complications and where one of the ménage is not alive. This book is set in the dying days of the Hoxha regime and examines the place and role of the writer in centralised state, privileges granted and sins forgiven. Running through the work is the relationship between the writer and a member of the "class enemy". Reality, the past, present and future become entangled with mythology as the writer ...more
Bryn (Plus Others)
I read this without knowing what to expect and it took me a very long time to have any understanding of what the book was doing -- in large part because I began it knowing absolutely nothing about Albania, so I could not at first even figure out if it was about a historical reality or Ruritania-turned-dystopia. The more I understood, the more I appreciated it, and I finished it with enjoyment; I think it is a book that will be excellent upon rereading when I can see how it all fits together from ...more
Evisa
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am not a big fan of Kadare - and I am not referring to his literature- but this book is simply brilliant. Read it at once, and I am afraid it has become my favorite Albanian book so far. If you want to have a taste of the brutality and cruelty of the Albanian Communism, depicted in both real and surreal shades, then you should pick this book up.
Slymandra
[Around the World challenge: Albania] I can tell I missed the point with this book and didn’t manage to find the different levels of understanding. The first part was pretty confusing, then the part where Migena tells Linda’s story was more interesting and gripping. I liked the witty writing style. Overall I’m not blown away, maybe it wasn’t the best book to discover Kadaré with.
tutajkara
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me a while to read this book but I truly loved it. This book is so much different from what I expected. And it was so interesting to read as I don't know that much about Albania. I think this is the type of the book that you would like to reread. The last pages were amazing!
Farhan Khalid
He felt a sense of urgency, even panic

Now he could no longer pretend to be more composed than he was, or reassure himself with the thought that his conscience was clear

Final scene of their quarrel replayed itself in his mind with excruciating clarity

He would have taken her for an overexcited girl who herself didn’t know what she wanted

Every time she wept he hoped to find out what her tears concealed, if anything

He understood the reason why: he hoped that, whatever trouble it caused him, it might
...more
Kristin Marie
Apr 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2018
Sometimes, when I am at the library, I go through the new book section to see if anything stands out to me or appears remotely interesting. I am very familiar with the phrase never judge a book by it's cover, but that is the first thing I see and it draws me in. From the darkened image of the girl falling, to the font of the title "A Girl in Exile" to the color of the background, or the author's name (Ismail Kadare) in red, it called out to me. I read the inside jacket and decided that it had ...more
Cherise Wolas
Challenging and interesting. Self-obsessed Rudian Stefan, a well-known novelist and playwright, is summoned for questioning by the Party Committee. He thinks it's about his newest play, which features a ghost, that changes the nature of ghosts in literature for the first time in a 1000 years, but the summoning has to do with a girl he doesn't know whose body was found with his newest book, in which he'd inscribed a souvenir from the author. He'd been asked for a copy of his book by the girl he's ...more
Debra
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Definitely a slow burner! I thought this would be yet another novel whose sole purpose was to reflect the atmosphere of paranoia that a Communist dictatorship deliberately evokes to keep its citizens in order. It turned out to be so much more: while indeed the first section accomplished this well (but I have seen and read this sort of thing before,so it carried no particular weight with me), it is the personal story of the girls, which comes later, where the book came alive. I found it rather ...more
Michael
220219: short, sweet, romantic. under dictorial regime a girl trapped in internal exile falls in love. subject, narrator often, is playwright already in trouble with censors. maybe familiar tropes. maybe read or seen before. but the heartbreaking effect for me is how faceless cruel oppression not only distorts romance/love possibilities but also rewrites how it can be even thought or recalled. playwright must finally face orpheus' choice. just read. just hurting...
Dara
Feb 07, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book but don’t feel completely satisfied. I can’t say exactly why. It is somewhere between 3-4 stars for me depending on how I think about it. I think there is much more to the writing than is at the surface. There were certain parts where I was really taken by the writing. I also had some difficulty. I suspect this might be because it is a work in translation or because It explores a culture I am unfamiliar with.
David Stewart
Kadare is famous for writing novels with messages so subtle as to pass underneath the notice of the former communist party that ruled Albania, and A Girl in Exile attempts to portray a playwright that essentially does the same. I've become a little tired of the trope of casting a writer as the main character in a novel. I understand that authors are supposed to write what they know, but it feels both arrogant and a little lazy to create in such a way. This comes through in A Girl in Exile, and I ...more
Ella
A wild ride - originally published in Albanian in 2009. Set right before the demonstrations that would signal the fall of communism in Albania, but still firmly within the grasp of dictatorship and its bureaucracy, playwright Rudian Stefa meets a lovely young woman at a book signing after a performance of his play in the capital city of Tirana.

The young woman, Migena, asks for a signature "for her friend, Linda B." Rudian thinks she's asking for herself, but also finds her quite attractive and
...more
Cflack
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This powerful novel pulls together the myth of orpheus and eurydice with the totalitarian state of Albania in the late 1980's. It then layers on top of it the story of a playwright and his relationships with 2 young women who are enamoured with his writing, one of whom he has never met but is found dead with an autographed copy of one of his works.

In it's subtle way, it is very much about the power of the state to observe and control people, especially women, and to completely stifle their
...more
Morgan
Feb 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
i loved bits with the orpheus myth (the final two pages were so wonderful) and the parts when that really comes to fruition in the novel worked really well for me. the translation makes the language seem... tense, maybe, and a bit strange and stilted which i think works in the book's favor. it hit a bunch of the stalinist dictatorship notes without seeming to retread what came before it and making parts of it feel specific to albania (parts of it seemed like it could've been anywhere... but ...more
Lisa
Mar 11, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Reviewed by the great John Banville, can't wait till this arrives: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/d632af...
Chris Angelis
Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a sense, Kadare’s A Girl in Exile is a story about… a girl. More specifically, about any Albanian girl that grew up in the isolated, one-party Albania of the period. Ismail Kadare makes it explicit, by dedicating the novel to the Albanian women who lived in internal exile.

But more elaborately, A Girl in Exile is about a conflict of a person between the “real” reality and the one they see or would like to see. If you detect psychological elements in there, you’d be spot on. The narrative does
...more
Vel Veeter
Jun 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: cbr-10
I haven’t read any other Ismail Kadare books before this one. I am going to. He’s an Albanian writer who wrote a lot of anti-authoritarian novels previously, and has been a perennially listed writer to maybe some day win the Nobel Prize (RIP Nobel Prize?). I also feel like maybe his best work is behind him.

This book is interesting in a lot of ways, but it’s so utterly slight in its gravity and form that the promising idea, which is handled with care, does not amount to as much as it could in a
...more
Moushine Zahr
This is the first novel I've read from Albanian author Ismail Kadare. This novel is mostly set in Tirana the capital of Albania during the Soviet Era. I consider this book to be a teenage romance novel. The story follows a censored playwright in his work and in his extra-marital love affair with a teenager from the country side. The playwright learns after the romance that her lover's best friend, Linda B. a relegated teenager had killed and it was she who was really interested in him. This ...more
Harald
Disruptive, but also quirky and witty. The novel begins as a new version of Kafka's The Process. The protagonist, the author Rudian Stefa, is unexpectedly summoned for questioning at the party office. Vague questions and answers support uncertainty and fear. Rudian eventually realizes that the authorities are not investigating him, but rather the death of Linda B, a young woman he has never met.

But his girlfriend, Migena, knew Linda B well. Eventually, we learn through the conversations between
...more
Nora Rawn
Sep 19, 2019 rated it liked it
This is probably my least favorite Kadare so far, though I enjoyed the glimpses of Hoxha and the sense of Tirana under the dictatorship. The problem with it, though I do think it gives a sense of how destabilizing for relationships and work the regime was, is in the young woman and her friend at the center of the book's plot. For being dedicated to the young women who grew up with their lives under central control, it doesn't yet come from their perspective; in fact this is the first Kadare book ...more
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Ismail Kadare (also spelled Kadaré) is an Albanian novelist and poet. He has been a leading literary figure in Albania since the 1960s. He focused on short stories until the publication of his first novel, The General of the Dead Army. In 1996 he became a lifetime member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences of France. In 1992, he was awarded the Prix mondial Cino Del Duca; in 2005, he ...more